MiniCrops is the flagship initiative of Vertical Future, a technology start-up aiming to improve health in cities. The MiniCrops initiative provides households, farm shops, catering companies and restaurants with locally distributed boxes of fresh produce, focusing on nutrition, price and sustainability. Household customers currently have the choice between boxes totaling either 150 or 300 grams, with each box containing between 6 and 9 different microgreen varieties, such as Rioja Radish, Red Kale, Sorrel, Sweet Genovese Basil and Broccoli. MiniCrops offers fair pricing and free delivery to customers across Greater London, and also recently invested in an electric vehicle fleet, further reducing food miles and environmental impact.
“We see a need for local fresh food with premium quality,” said Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s horticultural lighting business. “On top of enhancing growth, we now have the ability to influence taste, flavor, nutritional value and shelf life by applying the right growth recipe. This enables our customers to meet the growing demand for fresh consistent quality produce year-round.”
Jamie Burrows, founder of Vertical Future and MiniCrops, realized that with over 70% of people expected to be living in cities by 2050, food sustainability and food security will become bigger and more relevant risk factors. He foresees a significant amount of volatility in food pricing, changes across the farming industry, and temperature variations in food exporting countries. “Consumers expect fresh, locally-sourced, sustainable food – all at the touch of a button. To meet future demands we need to use technology to our benefit, maximizing food production in our own market, close to consumers,” Burrows said, adding that he also thinks that projects like MiniCrops will create local jobs in a new industry.
MiniCrops closely collaborates with Philips Lighting’s horticultural LED lighting partner Cambridge HOK, which supported with the design and build process, resulting in a controlled, uniform, high-quality, maximum yield production facility – minutes from the center of London. MiniCrops is currently in discussions with various parties to develop its second site in London.